RECORDS: Hawks 30-17-5 Coyotes 16-27-6
PUCK DROP: 8pm Central
SUCH A FINE SIGHT TO SEE: Five For Howling
ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Hawks – 50.1 (16th) Coyotes – 45.1 (29th)
ADJUSTED TEAM xGF%: Hawks – 47.7 (24th) Coyotes – 42.7 (29th)
POWER PLAY %: Hawks – 17.3 (20th) Coyotes – 15.2 (25th)
PENALTY KILL %: Hawks – 75.7 (28th) Coyotes – 77.2 (26th)
If you were dreaming of a way the Hawks mini-losing streak could be arrested at the “mini” stage, you would probably design it to have a game against the Coyotes right here and right now. Well guess what campers, that’s exactly what the Hawks get. A chance to get the confidence up in front of a Hawks fan-filled Gila Monster Arena or whatever the fuck it’s called now.
There won’t, or shouldn’t be too many changes for the Hawks tonight, who played reasonably well against the Sha-arks and were undone late. Marcus Kruger has returned from the land of wind and ghosts and will come back into the lineup tonight, likely replacing either Hinostroza or Desjardins, though based on yesterday’s practice it’ll be the former. Which is something of a surprise, because no one’s been able to prove that Desjardins has a pulse this season. But whatever. February games in Glendale are not worth wasting emotions over. Crawford should get to build on a strong effort against the Sha-arks, which he needs after his dip in January. Or give it to Darling, as this should be batting practice. Even break out the new pants, see how they fit, without much risk.
Right, to the Yotes. They have entered the part of the season where everything that isn’t nailed down is going to be sold at market, except for once that doesn’t include the whole organization (though where they’re going to be playing in the future is still in question, it’ll just be in valley somewhere). Items like Vrbata, Hanzal, and even Doan are up for auction, as well as Michael Stone on the blue line. The latter is a bit curious, as there was a time he was considered part of their future but he’s 26 now and headed for unrestricted free agency. So he’ll get to walk the deadline plank if anyone wants to come calling to take him in. If the Yotes wanted to get really creative they would try and get Mike Smith, the two years remaining on his deal, and his SAG award to a team desperate for a goalie (oh hi there St. Louis!). But that seems less likely.
As for the rebuild, it’s stalled out a bit as these things tend to do. Anthony Duclair was so lost for most of the season he got his ass punted to Tuscon in the AHL. Max Domi has been hurt and missed half the season, missing out on valuable development time. You can’t really say anyone else has taken a leap here either. And now it seems the Yotes are playing kids not to learn at the NHL level, but simply because they don’t have anyone else. They’re also trying everything they can find on the waiver wire, which is why you’ll see Alex Burmistrov and Josh Jooris running out there.
There’s a lot of kids even without Domi and Duclair, such as Rieder, Crouse, Dvorak (LOCAL BOY), Martinook, Perlini, and Chychrun on defense. How many of these will make up a future contender one day is anyone’s guess, though Chychrun, Dvorak and the two who are out are solid bets.
The Yotes haven’t been helped by some of their veterans not bringing what they usually do. Alex Goligoski, seemingly brought in to show some kids the way, has been an utter disaster. OEL isn’t providing his usual dominant ways, though he hasn’t been all bad. Martin Hanzal continues to do a weak Artem Anisimov impression, or Artem Anisimov is doing a strong Hanzal impression. I can never tell which. Radim Vrbata will score all the goals that simply don’t matter. It’s going to be just awesome when he goes to a contender and scores like three goals the rest of the season. You can fucking book it. Even Mike Smith’s suppose bounce-back season is based off a nuclear November and a couple of ok months after. This is not a worthy adversary.
Still, any man with two hands and all that. The Hawks can’t completely turn off, otherwise they’ll have a real mess on their hands.